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St. Bernardus Christmas Ale | Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV

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BA SCORE
93
outstanding
682 Reviews
St. Bernardus Christmas AleSt. Bernardus Christmas Ale
BEER INFO

Brewed by:
Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Belgium
sintbernardus.be

Style: Quadrupel (Quad)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 10.00%

Availability: Winter

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by seaoflament on 10-23-2007

BEER STATS
Reviews:
682
Ratings:
2,100
Avg:
4.19
pDev:
16.23%
 
 
Wants:
180
Gots:
427
For Trade:
6
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Reviews: 682 | Ratings: 2,100
Photo of Kromes
3.95/5  rDev -5.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A: A dark, dark amber with ruby highlights and a thick off white head that sits on top of the beer. Good lacing down the glass.

S: Roasted malt, bready yeast, anise, dark fruit and spice.

T: A toasted brown sugar, molasses, and dark fruit flavor to start, the boozy flavors then kick in along with a lighter fruitiness, bitterness and belgian funk in the beer.

M: Lower carbonation and a sticky, syrupy feel and it leaves the mouth a little dry and with a peppery spice.

D: The beer has a very strong flavor. You can definitely taste and feel the alcohol. However, the beer is tasty and has quite a kick.

 608 characters

Photo of rudzud
4.06/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on tap at the Armsby Abbey's yearly Belgian Christmas on 12/15.

*Note: This is a 2007 vintage*

A - Poured into a goblet this has a nice mahogany, cloudy pour with one of the most impressive heads I've ever seen. This 1 finger of big bubble head hung around for the duration of the ale leaving massive, clumpy side lacing. I'ver never seen bubbles of this size before in my brew, its insane!

S - Yeasty dough with raisins and dark fruit. Light aromas, yet what coems through is heavy.

T - Big raisin notes on this along with maybe some cherries too. So mellow and smooth thanks to the aging. There are some subdued carmel and malt flavours that are really pleasant.

M - Low carbonation due to age which is understandable. Not too heavy but it is syrupy.

D - Smooth, solid flavours with a great appearance. The appearance of this really sealed the deal for me. Such a gorgeous ale.

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Photo of phishgator
4.84/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

From a 750ml into a chalice. Nice hazy, brown carbonated with a decent head for ten perecent. lacing is slight. The aroma is fruity like sweet sugary candy. The taste is just like the smell, but with bread pudding taking over. Rasins and molasses also come through in the flavor. There is a lot going on with this brew. The body is full, but that doesn't stop you from craving more.

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Photo of scoots511
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Served out of 750mL bottle the corked "popped" and removing the cork was effortless due to the conditioned bottle psi. Pretty awesome label on the bottle. Makes me want to see this under the xmas tree.

A: Dark amber color, off-white head with tight carbonated head

S: Fruit-like apple/grape crisp smell

T: Nice depth/complexity to the taste. Many flavors going on. A slight bit of sourness on the sides of the tongue

M: Nice belgian mouthfeel

D: At 750mL 10% it's highly drinkable and smooth, a good one to share on a cold winter night by the fire.

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Photo of D23
3.98/5  rDev -5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Poured from a 750ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A) Pours a mahogany color with a fluffy off white head. Good lacing throught the glass.

S)Subtle hints of spice. Very faint No scent jumps to the front or overpowers. Also a hint of bananna.

T) Dark fruits and sweet malt. Alcohol taste is present but not overpowering.

M) Medium body ever so slight stickey finish.

D) Easy drinker given the ABV. As the beer warms the flavors come thru. Very enjoyable Christmas brew.

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Photo of drummstikk
3.85/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

This beer tastes like cherry cough syrup! But it's really not bad at all. It has none of the bitter or minty flavors of Robitussin, but all of the sweet estery plastic-cherry-goodness. Allspice and ginger combine in the tart medicinal finish, caramelized sugar and caramel malts fill out the middle, and bright Belgian phenols start us all off. Hop aroma is absent, while hop bitterness just peaks through the finish. Body is thick and syrupy, and carbonation is light. Color is hazy dark amber/ light brown. Fruits are present all throughout: cherries, plums, with a hint of peach and melon. Aroma is funky and phenolic.

Don't worry about the 10% ABV -- it will go down smooth, just like a good medicine.

My only complaint is that this beer is a bit sweet for all its medicinal flavors. The gestalt is an underattenuated ale with Brettanomyces cherry pie flavors. If I hadn't been a sickly child, swilling Dimetapp every winter, I am sure this beer wouldn't conjure the same images. As it is, a dryer finish would steer me into bliss.

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Photo of AgentMunky
3.88/5  rDev -7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from a growler into a 25cL St. Bernardus goblet.

A: A creamy head appears, shot through with bubbles. The beer is dark, ruddy brown, turning translucent when backlit. Beautiful lacing all down the sides.

S: Banana pudding. Cloves. Light yeast and other fruits.

T: A tad tart. Figgy fruit. Lightish and spicy -- cloves and possible fennel. It definitely improves as it warms, opening up other fruits, but staying somewhat sour. Aftertaste is drying and not the best part of the taste.

M: Smooth but watery; it feels like apple juice. Some carbonation keeping things lively.

D: A very enjoyable beer, but not the best Christmas ale, BSDA, or St. Bernardus.

EDIT: After two days in the fridge, the character of this beer changed drastically. Obviously, it became less carbonated and more sticky, but, more dramatically, the sourness disappeared completely to be replaced by maraschino cherries and a cough syrup flavour. The smell is different too -- cherries, christmas cake, and plum pudding.

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Photo of eric5bellies
4.21/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Drank from my Leffe Chalice.

A - A very nice head complemeted by a rich mahogany colour. The head is virtually the same for the entire beer.

S - Small amount of yeast and spice.

T - There is some spice and definitley some aniseed here. Lots of dark fruits that is followed by a boozey finish.

M - Medium to full body with medium carbonation and very very smooth.

D - Yet another top brew by St Bernardus, would go down well with christmas pudding.

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Photo of plfahey
4.17/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

Poured from a 750mL corked bottle into a tulip glass

Appearance-Reddish-brown in color, with ruby highlights. Somewhat hazy. Giant, light tan, rocky foam head leaving behind belgian lace.

Smell-Big aroma of dark/dried fruit (Plums, Raisins, Prunes, Figs), and a hint of green apples. Some bready malt, not really any hops. Light molasses, with spice hints including cinnamon and cloves. Some sweet dark candi sugar is blended with a whiff of alcohol in the finish.

Taste-The flavor is less complex and varied than the aroma. Less sweet than aroma indicates, Some malt and dark fruits (prunes and figs), which dries quickly to a smooth alcohol flavor with a hint of anise/dark candi sugar. Hop bitterness is very low, and hop flavor is negligible.

Mouthfeel-Medium body, enhanced by high carbonation. Rich, warming alcohol, and quite smooth.

My only complaint is the flavor, which is a little bit 1-dimensional compared with the other aspects of the beer. Nonetheless, it's still very good, and would definitely fit the bill as a winter warmer. Belgians often do a good job at making the alcohol in these high ABV beers sneaky-this one is no exception.

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Photo of runningjoke
4.31/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

The appearance was everything I expected. It's head was large with tight bubbles which turned to foam before turning into lace. A quick swirl will pump up the foam again. When held up to the light it has an opaque caramel/toffee color with some mahogony-red highlights at the edges and bottom of the glass. Continuous columns of bubbles stream to the top of the glass.
Malty smell with traces of cider, rum-raisin, and allspice.
Spicy and hot. It is malty with very little hop character. aftertaste has a slight astringent quality. This beer is really smooth and flavorful. It is an exceptional beer, fitting for a limited release.

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Photo of teromous
3.97/5  rDev -5.3%
look: 5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: First of all the head on this beer is simply amazing. The head does not even want to recede! The beer itself pours a rich brown color and billions of tiny bubbles rise to the top. As expected from a head this powerful, it laces the glass and doesn't go away.

S: There isn't a spice smell at all. I guess I expected some from a Christmas beer. The room instantly fills up with a unique Belgian beer scent. There is a yeasty smell to the beer but not overpowering.

T: A sip of this gives off a very thick, rich, full mouth of...well, Belgian beer! It has a slight hint of alcohol but is very smooth. There is no spice to this beer, as it seems the beer is more of a winter warmer than a spiced holiday beer. It has a very earthy flavor, bordering on a light oak. It is a rich beer but not very complex.

M: It has a very lush mouthful and warms without burning. It seems to be lacking something in the aftertaste.

D: This is very drinkable. It would probably go well with a gamy meat without spoiling the palate.

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Photo of CMW
4.15/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours a deep ruby red color with light brown head and plenty of retention.

S - Figs, raisins, apples, sugar, and bready malt.

T - Definitely on this sweet side but not in a bad way. Plenty of dark fruits mix well with an almost rock candy taste. Cinnamon and nutmeg spices can also be tasted.

M - Full bodied and provides a nice covering mouthfeel.

D - I polished this off quite easily and the flavors are not too bold and could allow for a second to be had.

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Photo of Adouble
1.69/5  rDev -59.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

750 cork and caged, Dec 2010 in a snifter.

loosened the cage and the cork became a projectile.

A- Deep burgandy approaching brown with a rocky off white head. opague with lots of lacing.

S- CO2, i know you cant smell co2, but the burn of co2. so i swirled it to release some of the cabonation. smells of alcohol, sweet fruits, rasin but weakly so. i really had to search to have something to say.

T- metallic, like sucking on a penny. it does not go away and is truly horrible and overwhelmes everything else. i can pick out some dark fruit, hint of licorice and some green apple in the finish. mouthfeel was watery with high prickly carbonation.

D- low. i suffered through but it was a chore.

overall not impressed

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Photo of womencantsail
4.37/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

On-tap at Stuffed Sandwich

A: The pour is a dark brown color with some amber sort of highlights and an appropriately large off-white head.

S: A really rich, luscious nose of caramel, brown sugar, candi sugar, and toffee. Tons and tons of fruits too, like cherries, figs, and plums.

T: The flavor is just as wonderful. Sweet brown sugar and caramel lead the way with plenty of cherries, plums, and raisins to provide further sweetness. There's some clove and nutmeg flavors as well as a nice yeastiness.

M: The body is medium with a really full and rolling carbonation.

D: Maybe the best of all the Belgian Christmas beers I've had to this point. This is pretty much what I think of/look for in this kind of beer.

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Photo of TMoney2591
4.2/5  rDev +0.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served in a wine glass.

Man, that monk sure looks happy and festive. His brew pours a hazy sienna topped by a finger of dirty tan foam. The nose comprises nutmeg, fig, cinnamon, and a touch of roasted malts. The taste runs very similarly, with the addition of banana and chocolate. The body is a staunch medium, with a light moderate carbonation and a somewhat grainy feel. Overall, another win from Bernardus. I can't wait to try the others I've yet to experience.

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Photo of nickhiller
3.94/5  rDev -6%
look: 5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: thick, groggy and opaque chocolate brown. A crazy 2 1/2 finger tan head with unbelievable retention and great lacing.

S: musty, funky, yeasty. The acidity is immediately apparent. It smells a little bit like vomit (just being honest). Some cherry, dark fruits and banana in the background.

T: syrupy malt, Belgian yeast, finish carries some strong dark fruits--cherries, plums, blackberries-- and dried fruits--prunes, raisins,

M: medium bodied with sharp carbonation reflecting the aforementioned head. Finish is warm and soothing.

D: for me, the appearance is the best thing about this beer. I've never seen a beer as opaque, a head as thick with such good retention and carbonation as unrelenting. The beer itself is good but in a I've-definitely-tasted-this-type-of-thing-before kind of way. I'm feeling that ABV though, warming on a cold winter day, a great feeling.

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Photo of mbrown26
4.26/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had this on-tap at the Thirsty Monk South.

A: A great dark beer with a nice head. It was a little too dark for me to get a real picture of the color, but it was dark and the head was nice. Lacing stayed throughout the glass.

S: Reminded me of the ABT. 12. Got fruity and malty notes.

T: Lots of malty flavor that has hints of cloves and cinnamon. Very flavorful. A different kind of beer if you're only used to pale ales or IPA styles.

M: Thick and syrupy, but clean.

D: Easy to drink, but one glass sure does for you.

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Photo of Daniellobo
3.68/5  rDev -12.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Nice, rich and quite approachable St. Bernardus

Presentation: 750 ml. corked bottle. Old fashion front label design with the image of the smiling St. Bernardus monk with a Santa hat holding a glass of the brew under falling snow. Lengthy note on the back with historic touches covering the main characteristics of the beer, including some general serving indications. Cork cage notes best by date (27.0515). Shows Alc. by Vol. (10%) Poured in a tulip glass.

A - Deep brown with ruby edges with a frothy head, medium retention, good lumpy surface memory, and nice touches of lace.

S - Malt sweetness, Belgium yeast tones, and a sugary sense.

T - Malty sweet flavor, plenty of sugar, with a soft fruity range and a shy pinch of spices.

M -Medium body with a high carbonation that still remains rather smooth providing a nice tingle as the brew progresses. Boozy sense in the finish as the brew warms and reaches its end.

D - Nicely drinkable, a bit mono-chord and generic but in a way that works well for the brew.

Notes: Feels a touch short of the impression from their XII but by the same token it may be more popularly liked, at least as an entry point for festive drinking across a diverse table. Not a favorite of mine, but with sharing in mind I would repeat it.

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Photo of dnarx
4.54/5  rDev +8.4%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: Was a nice dark orangy-brown with a tan head that left lacing up the side.

S: Smelled of dark fruits and spice

T: Slightly sweet but not overwhelmingly so, nice dark fruit flavors mingling with the spice, like a great bread pudding without the bread.

Mouthfeel was smooth with a good body.

Overall I really enjoyed this beer, I only had one because of the alcohol content and the sweetness, although subtle a little more than I prefer.

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Photo of jbertsch
4.98/5  rDev +18.9%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

Poured a dark, dark mahogany into a chalice. Foamy off-white head was attractive and provided great lacing that stayed throughout the session.

On the nose, the banana is right up front, along with prune, fig, raisin, and apple pie spices.

The taste is characterized of ripe banana and dark fruits - including a little clove - that create a total flavor profile that's greater than the sum of its parts. Almost tastes like an intense fruitcake with booze added. Flavor has an overall aged sense to it. Definitely abbey like.

Mouthfeel is smooth with a crisp apple-like edginess.

When enjoyed slowly, its drinkability is great. Given that the bottle says you can age this for up to 15 years, I need to buy a handful of these now to save for the next Christmases.

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Photo of biboergosum
4.05/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

750ml corked and wired bottle, shared with my dark Belgian-loving sweetie (uh, beer, that is...).

This beer pours a muddy, sediment-strewn, and rather dark orange-brick brown colour, with an ambitious rising column of frothy, and fairly soapy beige head, which leaves some thorough swaths of sudsy lace around the glass in its very somnolent wake.

It smells of chewy raisins, caramel/toffee malt, everything ever baked by my mom for Christmas, a bit of earthy yeast, and softly simmering alcohol (which also has something in common with my dear mom's holiday goodies). The taste is more caramel and raisin malt sweetness, plummy fruit, nutmeg and cinnamon spice, brown sugar, and strongly warming alcohol.

The carbonation is sedate, but not exactly absent in its gently frothiness, the body well weighted, smoothly-textured, and a tad creamy. It finishes with that same complex, spiced Christmas baking sweetness, all duly steeped in rum.

Overall, much like other holiday season libations, this is a barely restrained, indulgent sipper, for satisfying that sweet tooth, keeping out the chill, and keeping all that other craziness to an acceptable hum. Very worthy of checking out if you like the style, or just need a cool Christmas gift for the beer geek on your list - hint, hint.

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Photo of jnn4v
4.25/5  rDev +1.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Had on tap at Brasserie Beck in Washington DC.

A: Mahogany / walnut brown color. Translucent around the edges and generally hazy. No sediment. Moderate cream colored head with very fine texture.

S: Nutmeg, ginger, and other holiday spices are the very first thing I noticed. Also some dried dark fruits like raisins and dates as well as spiced or candied nuts.

T: Good flavor. Spices are the most dominant trait, but they aren't overpowering. Some good mixes of nutty flavors with molasses and brown sugar malts, dates, raisins and prunes.

M: Very good mouthfeel. Good body and texture from the viscosity. Nice, refined carbonation as well.

D: Different than I expected (I'd been hoping for Abt 12 plus spices, and this is more of a brown with spices). However, it definitely grew on me. Very drinkable at refrigerator, cellar or room temperature.

 857 characters

Photo of VelvetExtract
3.93/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A-Dark brown with a large frothy head. Takes quite some time for me to be able to drink past the foam. Lots of lacing.

S-Like many have said before. Its bottled Christmas. Smells like Santa's beard. Christmas spices all over the place.

T-Cinnamon, nutmeg etc. Belgian yeast. Dark fruits. I find that the alcohol is masked more in this one than the Abt 12. Excellent for the season. Perfect application of the flavors.

M-Medium to heavy. Smooth. Quite delectible.

D-Not an overly easy drinker due to the alcohol level. Still, pretty damn good.

An excellent Christmas Ale. Happy to try it.

 592 characters

Photo of OakedCanuck
4.12/5  rDev -1.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into Trois Pistoles goblet.

The beer pours a dark brown to black but with a hint of purplish edges. A nice light fluffy head that has ok lacing. The smell follows the taste. You can taste dark fruits (plum, currant, some raisin), figs, some spices and strong belgian yeast which is no surprise. You can definitely feel the alcohol in the mouth and the carbonation, sharp bite on the tongue. This beer is delicious and a great Christmas release.

 465 characters

Photo of magine
4.11/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Poured into a chalice.

Pours a very dark brown nearing black; cloudy and dirty. Has a fluffy tan head that sits about a pinkie finger width atop the brew. The silky smooth head sits nicely throughout the session. Sticky lace rims the glass all the way down. Very good looking brew.

Brew has a great smell; dark fruits, yeasts, spices. Has a nice fruit dominant nose. Smells good.

Brew is very smooth and has a malty fruity flavor. Yeasts, sweet dark fruits, spices. The head adds to the creaminess of the mouthfeel as you drink. The head on this one sets it apart. This frothy head sticks to your upper lip as you drink. For the style of brew, with the high alcohol, this is one of the best heads I have had for this style of brew. Finishes very balanced and only a tad dry. Sweet taste was expected and is about right for the style, but may put some off to the style. The alcohol is very well hidden. Really good stuff.

Very good brew to drink on a cold night and get ready for Christmas. Very well done flavors and mouthfeel; the added bonus, and what sets it apart from the others I have tried of this type is the great appearance. The velvety smooth head coats the tongue as you drink. Very good sipping brew. This isn't my favorite style of brew, but if you are going to go for a Belgian Strong Dark Ale this is maybe your best option.

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St. Bernardus Christmas Ale from Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
4.19 out of 5 based on 2,100 ratings.
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